Cultural resistance and native testimonio in the Americas : a study of the life stories by Juan Pérez Jolote, Nuligak Kriogak and An Antane Kapesh
Date de publication2012
This thesis explores native testimonies in Canada, Mexico, and Quebec written between 1950 and 1980. The goal of this research is to study the strategic use of life writing and the testimonial genre by Native subjects in particular in their struggle for self-governance, cultural recognition and survival in order to talk back to the dominant neo/colonial culture. Testimonio allows Native voices to emerge in scriptocentric culture while questioning the authority of neo/colonial cultures and addressing important issues regarding Native survival. The focus of this study is how the use of testimonial writing allows Native cultures to renegotiate history, fight cultural misrepresentation and resist cultural assimilation. By finding new ways to transmit oral knowledge and traditional heritage, while undergoing the process of mediation, such as translation and/or editing, Native writers are able to judiciously use testimonio as an empowering tool for cultural survival. The truth claims found in these narratives are discussed individually in order to render a clearer picture about Natives' oppression in the Americas. This enables the socio-historical specificities of each Native discourse to emerge from various geopolitical contexts and to stand tall against neo/colonial oppression. In order to better understand how testimonio can put forward Native voices and demands, this study draws on testimonial theory from researchers such as John Beverley, George Yudice and Georg Gugelberger as well as on postcolonial and life-writing theory. According to these theorists, testimonio writing speaks urgently about oppression, marginalization and survival, often for political not just aesthetic This thesis studies life stories by Juan Perez Jolote, Nuligak Kriogak, and An Antane Kapesh as example of testimonio, by analysing the collaboration between the author/teller and the editor/translator; the cultural mis/representation within these narratives, and the resistance (if any) these works engage in. The use of native languages (especially: Tzotzil, Inuvialuktun, and Innu-aimun) at the early stages of the collaboration testifies to the ongoing cultural survival of the Chamula, the Inuvialuit, and of the Innu in the 20 th century. The political urgency of these testimonios can be observed at the different stages of the process of their liberation in each respective narrative.